Studying abroad is an exciting and life-changing experience, but one of the most critical aspects to consider is your accommodation. Finding the right place to live can significantly impact your overall experience and well-being while studying in a foreign country. To help you make an informed decision, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide on what to look for in study abroad housing, so that you can find the best study abroad accommodation for you.
Study Abroad Housing Tips
Thousands of students from all over the world leave their countries to study abroad each year. Between 2020 and 2021, 14,549 students from the U.S. alone ventured overseas to become foreign students. And, while studying abroad can be a great way to experience a different culture while receiving your education, you still need to make sure you find good accommodation and ensure you stay safe on your trip.
So, how can you choose the best and safest study abroad housing and what should you look for in study abroad accommodation? Let’s take a look at some of the top tips for finding your home away from home.
Location, Location, Location
If you can, choose accommodation that is conveniently located near your university or place of study. It should either be within walking distance or easy to reach via public transportation. This will save you time and reduce the stress of daily commuting.
If you can’t live close by, check out the local transport links and map your daily route to school to determine how long your daily commute will be. If it’s much longer than 30 minutes, you’ll likely be better off seeking alternative accommodation if your budget allows it.
Before you start your search it’s worth working out how much you can afford to spend on accommodation.
Calculate your budget for accommodation and consider additional costs like utilities, groceries, and transportation. Once you have a figure in mind you can begin your housing search.
If you’re still struggling you can explore study abroad scholarships or financial aid that may cover housing costs.
Start your accommodation search well in advance to have a broader range of options.
Don’t rush the decision-making process; take your time to evaluate different choices.
Consider different accommodation types. If you’re studying at a university you’ll either be offered on-campus housing or you’ll have to look for off-campus housing. There are pros and cons to both.
On-Campus Housing: Many universities offer on-campus housing options, which can be a convenient and immersive choice. You’ll get to live with other students and it can be a great way to make friends. However, availability may be limited, so apply early.
Off-Campus Housing: Think private apartments, shared houses, or homestays. This offers more independence but requires diligent research to find the right fit.
If you’re not studying at university you’ll almost certainly need to find your own accommodation. This is where it pays to know the sort of study abroad accommodation you’re looking for, what you can afford, and where to look.
Safety of the Neighborhood
Prioritize safety by researching the safety record of the neighborhood and checking crime rates. Student areas or university accommodations are often safer options.
You can look up local crime rates and statistics for the neighborhood or city where you plan to study. Most cities provide this information online, and you can find data on various types of crimes such as theft, assault, and vandalism.
Alternatively, you can connect with locals or expatriates who have lived in the area. They can provide firsthand information about safety, neighborhoods to avoid, and tips for staying secure.
If you don’t know anyone there, check online resources, forums, and social media groups where students discuss their experiences. They may offer valuable insights into the safety of specific neighborhoods and accommodations. It’s also worth checking out general travel safety tips before you go abroad.
Finally, seek advice from your place of study. Universities’ international offices or academic advisors often have information about the safety of different areas.
When trying to find study-abroad housing, you should have confidence in the safety of your accommodation before you make that move abroad. For example, if you’re in shared accommodation, your room should ideally only be accessible to you and the building’s security team.
It’s therefore worth considering factors such as access control and video security for extra piece of mind, especially when sharing with others.
Access control is essential for residential security when living in shared accommodation.
You should enquire about keycard and fob systems at your potential residence. A lock can easily be picked, leaving you vulnerable to theft – or worse – during your stay. A keycard or fob lock can only be opened with access credentials.
You might also ask about cloud-based access control systems if you’re looking for even more rigorous security. A cloud-based access control solution offers the following features and benefits:
- Remote Management: You can easily lock and unlock your doors from anywhere using a mobile device, ensuring you don’t leave your accommodation unlocked when you’re out. You can also allow guests into your room before you arrive home, so they aren’t stuck outside waiting for you.
- Mobile Access Credentials: Cloud-based access control allows you to download access credentials to your mobile device. This way, you won’t be as likely to lose your key as you would be with a key card or fob. Mobile access credentials are like digital keycards you can download and store on your mobile device.
A sophisticated security system shows that the accommodation takes its residents’ safety seriously, and looking for advanced security features will assure you of your safety.
If something happens to you during your trip or someone steals your belongings, you need video evidence; the evidence will support your claim and aid in investigating the incident.
Ideally, you should ensure your accommodation has security cameras with complete visibility. There should be no blind spots in the surveillance infrastructure that leaves the building vulnerable.
If you want advanced and responsive security, check if the facility has a cloud-based video security system. Cloud-based video security lets security staff quickly check camera feeds from their mobile device; they can even leverage open API integrations to apply automated threat detection software.
This software will use behavior and object recognition to detect potential security threats. The security team will then receive an alert, ensuring they can act quickly without missing any important security occurrences.
Opting for a more advanced commercial building security system will help reduce your anxiety about living abroad, and you’ll be able to enjoy your trip with the knowledge that your temporary homestead is safe.
Presumably, you won’t know the alarm system regulations for the country you’ll be traveling to. In some countries, there are no health and safety regulations enforcing alarm system requirements. So, to ensure you’re safe during your trip, you should check that the facility offers the following alarm systems:
- Carbon monoxide detectors
- Fire alarms
- Smoke detectors
- Glass break sensors
- Motion sensors
- Gunshot detectors
If a facility has invested in all of the above security tools, you’ll likely be extremely safe during your stay.
While you may not be able to tick all of these boxes if you’re living in privately rented accommodation, at least you’ll know what to look out for.
Housing Amenities and Facilities
Check what amenities are included in your accommodation. This could range from internet access and laundry facilities to a gym or common areas.
Think about your personal preferences – are you looking for a private bathroom, a kitchen, or a quiet study space? How many roommates do you want to live with? Answering these questions can help you narrow down your search.
Roommates and Compatibility
Finding compatible roommates is an important aspect of securing accommodation, especially when studying abroad.
If you’re sharing your accommodation with roommates, consider compatibility factors like lifestyle, habits, and study preferences.
Many universities offer roommate matching services and there are several websites and platforms that can help you connect with potential roommates too. Here are some popular options:
- Facebook Groups: Many universities and cities have Facebook groups dedicated to housing and roommate searches. You can join these groups and post your requirements or browse through posts from others looking for roommates.
- Roomster: Roomster is a popular platform for finding roommates and shared housing. You can create a profile, search for available rooms or roommates, and connect with potential matches.
- Roomi: Roomi is a roommate-finding app and website that helps you search for compatible roommates based on your preferences and budget. It also offers features like background checks and secure messaging.
- SpareRoom: SpareRoom is widely used in the UK and some U.S. cities. It allows you to search for rooms and roommates, and it offers a variety of search filters to narrow down your options.
- EasyRoommate: EasyRoommate is another platform that helps you find compatible roommates and shared accommodations. It operates in multiple countries and regions.
- Craigslist: In some areas, Craigslist can be a resource for finding housing and roommates. Be cautious and verify information before making any commitments, as there can be scams on the platform.
- University Housing Services: Many universities have dedicated housing services or websites where you can find information about on-campus and off-campus housing options, as well as roommate search tools.
- Student Housing Websites: Some websites specialize in student housing and roommate searches for international students. Examples include HousingAnywhere and Student.com.
- Local Classified Ads: In some regions, local newspapers or classified ad websites may have listings for rooms and roommates. Always exercise caution and meet potential roommates in safe, public places.
- Study Abroad Forums: Online forums and communities for study abroad students often have sections where students can post about housing and roommate searches. Websites like College Confidential and The Student Room are good places to start.
When using these websites and platforms to find roommates, be sure to communicate openly, ask questions, and get to know potential roommates before making any commitments. It’s essential to establish compatibility in terms of living habits, schedules, and expectations to ensure a harmonious living arrangement during your study abroad experience. Additionally, exercise caution when sharing personal information and be aware of potential scams or fraudulent listings.
Reviews and Recommendations
Read reviews from other students who have lived in the same accommodation. Websites, forums, and social media groups can be valuable sources of information.
Seek recommendations from your university’s international office or academic advisors.
Of course, you won’t be studying throughout the entirety of your trip. You’ll need to browse the local amenities before you move abroad to ensure you have everything you need to resume your routine.
Are you a gym-goer? You’ll need to check out the gyms close to your accommodation. Don’t forget to check the member fee, too; you don’t want to be shocked by a fancy expensive membership for the gym you had in mind!
Check for social clubs, hangout spots, parks, and other fun amenities. You’ll make plenty of friends during your trip, and it’s good to have some activities and nice restaurants nearby for hanging out.
If you want to immerse yourself in the local culture, consider a homestay with a local family. This can provide a unique and enriching experience.
Just be sure to familiarize yourself with local customs, including manners and social protocols. Being respectful and knowledgeable regarding the local culture you are inhabiting can go a long way toward avoiding misunderstandings that could lead to uncomfortable, or even dangerous, situations.
Lease Terms and Conditions
Carefully read and understand the terms of your lease agreement, including the duration, cancellation policy, and any additional fees.
Keep a copy of your lease and all correspondence with your landlord or housing provider.
Obviously, this can be a bit more difficult in a foreign country if you don’t know the language so it can be useful to have a trusted contact to guide you.
Ensure that your chosen accommodation meets the visa requirements for international students in your host country. Some countries may require proof of accommodation as part of your visa application.
Visit in Advance (if possible):
If you have the opportunity, visit your chosen accommodation before committing to it. This can help you get a feel for the place and assess its suitability.
Be prepared to adapt to new living conditions and cultures. Your study abroad housing and accommodation may not be the same as what you’re used to at home and could have fewer amenities, but it is the experience that is the important thing.
Studying abroad is truly transformative, so embrace it and enjoy it. Flexibility will be your ally.
Study Abroad Housing: Final Thoughts
Moving abroad for your studies and finding accommodation can be stressful. But, by considering factors like location, budget, amenities, and personal preferences, you can make a well-informed decision that contributes to a memorable and enriching journey during your time abroad. Plus if you can find accommodation that’s safe and secure, you can rest easy knowing you and your belongings will be safe.
Remember these considerations during your search, and you’ll be on your way to a safe, happy experience studying abroad!
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